As Barack Obama gears up in earnest for his 2012 run, he should think of some creative ways to reach out to young people. He was an online ace in 2008, getting in early on the Facebook trend and building a campaign organization that coordinated online. As Shepard Fairey and Obama Girl showed everyone, though, some of the most impactful material came not from the campaign, but from the supporters. The social web is light years ahead of where it was four years ago--we have Twitter!--and he'd be smart to take advantage of the loyal meme-making base once again. At least one YouTube user has already started making adorable, viral videos, so far most of which involve Obama being nice to children.
TheObamaDiary appeared on YouTube a week ago and scored its first viral hit within 72 hours. Michelle and Barack Obama are hanging out at the Congressional Picnic on the White House lawn, separated from a gaggle of grinning Americans, and someone hands Michelle a baby that promptly starts to cry. Not really knowing the best way to handle the little one, she passes it to her husband, who upon touching the child, cures the colic. ("Like a BOSS," said BuzzFeed.) It appears to be taken from an official White House video, judging by the watermark, and Official White House photographer Pete Souza snapped a still that featured the soother-in-chief comforting the child and Michelle Obama's oh-gosh! expression. In case you haven't seen it:
After that video garnered a million views, another one hit the site on Thursday. This time, Obama is hanging out in the presidential limo, also known as The Beast, with some kids he apparently picked up off the street who get the pleasure of calling their mom from the car phone. Obama's sideways glances into the camera let you know that he knows he's being filmed providing a very adorable experience for the kids:
And another! Little math whizzes in the White House who stump Barack Obama with a very cute but also smart question about where the focal points of the Oval Office. Aw shucks, he doesn't know!
We have to wonder: who's behind this genius campaign strategy? Is she (or he) isn't already on the Obama campaign payroll, she should be. There's no better way to win over America than through a bunch of LOL-friendly internet videos. We traced the crying baby meme from Anna Holmes' Twitter account (where we first noticed it), to her friend and Feminista author Erica Kennedy, who found it on the seldom updated Obama Daily blog on LiveJournal. This is no breakthrough in the anatomy of a meme, but it seems like somebody knows what they're doing.
Obama's campaign strategists could learn a thing or two from TheObamaDiary. Whoever is behind the channel is clearly an Obama fan--the channel page is plastered with images of Obama 2012 buttons. Meanwhile, the White House's YouTube strategy is less than exciting. They missed the baby footage and posted a different, not-so-meme-worthy video of Obama giving some remarks to the crowd instead. Candidate Barack Obama has a separate YouTube channel with lots of campaign-oriented stuff like a "Get Involved" button and a heavily produced video about why Father's Day matters. As opposed to the instant satisfaction of TheObamaDiary's 20-second videos, the official videos go on for minutes. These are not the types of videos that BuzzFeed promotes or Reddit users vote up.
We reached out to whomever runs the channel but haven't heard back yet about the story behind it. In the meantime, the Obama campaign should pay attention.